Here’s something you don’t hear every day; items found inside the stomach of a 750-pound Mississippi alligator go back thousands of years.
Shane Smith, the owner of Red Antler Processing in Yazoo City, said he was examining the contents of a 13-foot, 5-inch alligator that weighed 750 pounds and discovered two unusual objects. One he couldn’t identify, but the other was a broken stone arrowhead.
The story began to unfold in April when a wild game processor in South Carolina reported opening an alligator’s stomach and finding unusual items. Smith read it and was skeptical.
To satisfy that curiosity, Smith decided to examine the contents of the larger alligators he processed. The first was a 13-foot, 2-inch, 787-pound gator taken by Ty Powell of Columbia.
“We found a bullet in it, and it had not been fired from a gun,” Smith said.
The second alligator he opened, harvested at Eagle Lake, contained many things the first did, including bones, hair, feathers, and stones. Then, something else caught his eye.
“Everybody was standing around like I was opening a Christmas present,” Smith said. “We put it all in a bin.
“I looked over and saw a rock with a different tint to it. It was the arrowhead.”
“It was just disbelief,” Smith said. “There’s just no way he had an arrowhead. Your first thought is it ate (a Native American) or (a Native American) shot it in the stomach.”
Smith knew that wasn’t the case, though.
“My best hypothesis is wherever he scooped up those other rocks, he got that Indian point,” Smith said. “We joked about it and said I’m probably the only person on Earth to pull an arrowhead out of an alligator’s stomach.”
Starnes said it’s a plummet and dates back to the Late Archaic Period, or about 1700 BC.
The weight is accounted for because it’s made of hematite, an iron oxide traded between early groups and shines when polished. Starnes said what the purpose plummets served is unknown.
“The plummets, we have no idea what they were used for,” Starnes said. “These things had some significance, but we have no idea. We can only guess.”
So, how did these ancient objects get into the alligator’s belly? Ricky Flynt, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Alligator Program coordinator, explained very hard things, typically stones, aid the reptiles in digestion.